I heard the news last night and I still get actual chills whenever I think about it (apart from the single-digit shivers we’re all having this week). Local author Clare Vanderpool has won the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature! Her YA novel, Moon Over Manifest, was published last fall.
This is exciting for me on a couple of levels. First, I’m completely thrilled that Kansas has its first ever Newbery winner. It’s considered the Pulitzer of children’s books. This is huge. Second, Clare is a first-time author. It’s almost unheard-of for a debut novel to win. Last, I have a small personal connection to Clare; she was the youth ministry director for the Wichita diocese when I was in high school and very active in our regional youth group leadership. Between that work and her role as mother of four children, Clare clearly has insight into the thoughts and dreams of young people.
I had a wild thought this morning before I’d had much coffee. College football’s bowl season just ended; Oregon and Auburn fans were crazed with excitement yesterday as their teams fought for the championship. For writers like us, Clare is part of our home team. We cheer, we’re proud, we want to brag a little whenever an author in our midst gets published or honored. So, pump your fist for Clare today and let her achievement serve to pump up your own belief that if she can do it, we can too. Go Team Kansas!